The project investigates the multiple relationships of power and movement. The governing of movement has become one of the most powerful operations spanning across a variety of social, economical or ecological fields. Movements of migration, traffic in metropolises, the mobility and flexibility of workers, and the logistics of goods and information are considered as producing high values and at the same time a constant source of threat. How do the “techniques of power” (Foucault) operate in and by movement and how do they create their own regime of mobility?
Choreography and dance has developed a vast set of techniques to create and direct movement. Ranging from the disciplinary techniques of classical ballet to the experimental and individualistic practices of contemporary dance, choreography offers an extensive knowledge on the modulation of movement. By linking these choreographic techniques with the field of political research, this projects deepens the analysis of techniques of power active in the above-mentioned fields. By proposing the concept of “choreopower” the project elaborates on the idea of movement’s very own political force. The research deploys an interdisciplinary range of methods from the fields of dance studies, ethnography, political theory and philosophy.
In my PhD research I developed new perspectives on a key phenomenon in the performance of dance: touch. In contemporary dance, touch takes place in manifold ways: stroking, caressing, hitting, lifting, holding, etc. All these different modes of touch demonstrate that touch cannot be reduced to the mere contact between two bodies. It creates an interplay of movements and multiple relations of proximity. Through this process-oriented notion of touch I reevaluate key concepts such as the body, rhythm, emotional expression, subjectivity and audience perception. I therefore propose that movement, experience and affect as central concepts for an analysis of touch. By closely analyzing eight performances by European and American choreographers such as Meg Stuart/Philipp Gehmacher, Jared Gradinger/Angela Schubot or Xavier Le Roy I investigate their usage of touch.
With my research I bring affect theory to the field of dance and performance studies. In recent years there has been a growing interest in the concepts of affect, relation and motion in the humanities. At the same time a discourse on touch became prominent in the field of philosophy, based mainly on the deconstructive writings of Jacques Derrida (On Touching, Jean Luc-Nancy, 2005) and Jean-Luc Nancy (Noli me tangere, 2008) as well as Erin Manning (Politics of Touch, 2007). The aim of my research is to bring together close descriptions and analyses of these dance performances with theoretical investigations into the question of touch across the fields of performance and dance studies, philosophy and cultural theory. The guiding question is therefore twofold: What do these concepts provide for the analysis and conceptualization of contemporary dance performances? How does the focus on dance and movement advance the discourse on touch, especially the notion of the touching body?